Brisbane Lions premiership star Taylor Smith will be taking a secret weapon into her bid to claim another AFLW flag – the support of her Bond University teammates.
Smith and fellow Bull Shark Mikayla Pauga were key contributors in the Lions’ 23-point victory over Adelaide at Metricon Stadium on Friday night.
The win propelled the Lions into their fourth AFLW grand final, against Melbourne at Brighton Homes Arena on Sunday, and will give Smith the chance to claim her second premiership medallion after being part of the side that stunned the Crows in 2021.
The Lions headed to a packed Adelaide Oval as underdogs that season and this time will relish the opportunity to perform on home soil.
They earned hosting rights to the very first AFLW grand final, again against Adelaide, but were forced to play the game on the Gold Coast after being denied access to the Gabba.
“It will be even more special to play a Grand Final in front of all our friends and family at our new home ground,” Smith said.
“And I know my Bond Uni teammates will be doing everything they can to get behind us and get us over the line on Sunday.’’
Pauga is one of four Lions from the preliminary final win who are expected to be named in the Grand Final side that were not part of the 2021 premiership victory.
She started the season on the fringe of senior selection before forcing her way into an AFLW debut against Richmond in Round 5 and has since established herself as a regular member of coach Starcevich’s side.
Bull Sharks GM of Football Michael Swann said her breakthrough season at AFLW level was the result of hard work on the training track.
“It’s fantastic to see the way Mikayla has worked her way into the starting side and put herself in the mix to become an AFLW premiership player,” he said.
“Since receiving the Riewoldt Family AFL Excellence Scholarship for her sublime skills and footy sense, she has put in the hard yards building her running capacity whilst playing for the Bull Sharks.
“The club is very proud of her efforts and wishes her the best of luck for the weekend.”
It has been a huge week for the Lions with four members of the team named in the All Australian side and star midfielder Ally Anderson names the competition’s best and fairest.
However, Smith said the celebrations were short-lived as the side narrowed its focus to the challenge ahead of them on Sunday.
“It is an incredibly exciting time around the club,” she said.
“We work hard all season to be here right at the end, and now we have the opportunity to play for the ultimate prize.”